My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that response. Over 1 million policyholders are still suffering from the collapse of Equitable Life and the Government have been sitting on the ombudsman's report for the last five months. On
My Lords, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has produced a very thorough report. The production of the report took over four years. That came after Lord Penrose's report, which took two years. The Parliamentary Ombudsman tabled her report immediately before the Recess. This House would expect that report to receive due and careful attention. The report runs to 15 chapters; the issues involved are technical and complex. I would rather defend a delay in order to produce a correct and well considered report than a hurried response which had not received full and complete consideration.
My Lords, the noble Lord makes two mistakes, I say with due respect. First, he confuses a deposit with an investment. Secondly, he seeks to conflate two entirely separate issues.
My Lords, the Government will make a full Statement during the week of
My Lords, the Minister's attitude simply does not wash. It took so long for the ombudsman's report to see the light of day because the Treasury wilfully used delaying tactics to ensure that it could not be released. It has now been released and we have been waiting since July for the Government's response. The Equitable Members Action Group estimates that around 15 people from the group who suffered die each day. That means that the delay since July has meant that 3,000 more people have died. The delay until January will mean another 500. Do the Government have no shame?
My Lords, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has thanked the Government for their support during her inquiry. The incidents to which the noble Baroness referred date back to the early part of the past decade, and the major issues to which she drew attention occurred when another party was in government. It is not advisable for the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, to talk of shame. If there is shame, it rests as much on the other side of the House.
My Lords, is it not a shame that parliamentarians such as myself cannot discover what happens in each government department to recommendations made by the parliamentary commissioner for administration when we ask Questions, because we are told that there is no centrally held information? Is the noble Lord aware that we then have to table Questions to each and every government department, when it would be perfectly easy and much cheaper if the Government got their act in order and had one central place that would tell the House how many recommendations there have been and what happened to them across the board?
My Lords, does my noble friend agree with the comments by Lord Penrose about the period before 1997—that the society was largely the author of its own misfortunes? If so, does that not mean that we may appropriately be looking at a hardship scheme, but not necessarily compensation?
My Lords, I suggest to the noble Lord that we really should not be worrying about party games as to whether the Conservatives or Labour are at fault. We have a situation where many savers, in good faith, are greatly concerned. Will the noble Lord assure us that the Statement will be repeated in this place and that we will have an opportunity for proper scrutiny?